Food and Behaviour Research

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Food Addiction in the Light of DSM-5

Meule A and Gearhardt AN (2014) Nutrients 6(9) 3653–3671 

Web URL: Please find the OPEN ACCESS paper and related research on PubMed here


The idea that specific kind of foods may have an addiction potential and that some forms of overeating may represent an addicted behavior has been discussed for decades.
In recent years, the interest in 
food addiction is growing and research on this topic lead to more precise definitions and assessment methods.

For example, the 
Yale Food Addiction Scale has been developed for the measurement of addiction-like eating behavior based on the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence of the fourth revision of theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
In 2013, diagnostic criteria for substance abuse and—dependence were merged, thereby increasing the number of symptoms for substance use disorders (SUDs) in the DSM-5. Moreover, gambling disorder is now included along SUDs as a behavioral addiction.

Although a plethora of review articles exist that discuss the applicability of the DSM-IV substance dependence criteria to eating behavior, the transferability of the newly added criteria to eating is unknown.

Thus, the current article discusses if and how these new criteria may be translated to overeating.
Furthermore, it is examined if the new SUD criteria will impact future research on food addiction, for example, if “diagnosing” food addiction should also be adapted by considering all of the new symptoms.
Given the critical response to the revisions in DSM-5, we also discuss if the recent approach of
Research Domain Criteria can be helpful in evaluating the concept of food addiction.